Pay differences reveal misplaced priorities

by Remi Omodara

A brain surgeon performs surgery on a dying cancer patient while an NBA star hits a jump shot at the buzzer to win the game. The NBA star will make 10 times the amount of money that the doctor will make even though the doctor is working to save a life.

Everyone loves entertainment. Some people find entertainment in watching basketball, football, etc. In fact, sports are loved so much that baseball was named America’s favorite pastime over a century ago. I am not saying there isn’t value in entertainment, but I feel that very influential careers are at the bottom of the barrel for no reason.

Doctors save lives and can make several hundred thousand dollars, depending on their area of expertise. Teachers provide the basis of learning and allow students to become anything they want to be, yet according to, the average teacher makes around $40,000. According to, the salary of professional athletes, which dwarfs both doctors and teachers, is a reflection of how society places sports over life’s other priorities. In the eyes of society, someone who can dunk a basketball is more important and interesting than someone who teaches our children how to read.

People go into debt buying tickets to professional sports games and spend loads of money on professional sports team apparel to emphasize how much they love them. In reality, they are just making the athletes that much richer.

Some may argue that athletes are paid so well because they risk their lives training for the sports they play and run the risk of injury. However, a pharmacist daily runs the risk of accidentally giving the wrong count of pills to a patient. A construction worker runs the risk of falling off a roof. Many careers are risky.

Coaches are also paid a significant sum for what they do. Even at the collegiate level, coaches are paid more than many other basic professions. According to ESPN, the football coach at Washington State University, Paul Wulff, makes $600,000. That would be more than the salaries of the average teacher, doctor, lawyer and chef put together.

While people are starving and standing by freeways collecting coins to live off of, NBA players are slam-dunking their way to millions. While teachers are trying to make sure their students are ready to graduate high school, NBA players are lobbying for higher salaries. For example, the most recent NBA lockout occurred in early July when players and owners could not reach a unanimous decision about pay.

I am not belittling what professional athletes do. I simply don’t think it’s fair that so much money is allocated to people who provide entertainment. There are so many other influential people making a huge difference in the world and getting paid next to nothing for it.

Why have we, as a society, said that it is more important for someone to entertain us than to save our life? The saying “the rich keep getting richer” comes to mind when I think about this topic. As the money given to professional athletes increases, regular people struggle to find jobs to sustain their families.

As professional athletes dwell in their multi-million dollar mansions with their expensive cars and their “bling bling,” regular people struggle to keep paying the rent on their two-bedroom apartments, keep gas in their Fords and work toward the American Dream.

Everyone loves a good football game and we all love rocking our favorite jerseys, but just think about how overpaid athletes are and how unfair it is. Everyone should be paid what they are worth. So have we as a society decided that teachers are not worth much? It doesn’t add up, but athletes are the highest paid professionals. Sport is a big business in America and if you aren’t a professional athlete, I guess you are purely out of luck.

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